As every WWII history buff knows, the USS Hornet aircraft carrier (CV-8) is famous for its role in a daring bombing raid on Tokyo lead by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle early in the war. But did you know that 22 of the B-25 "Mitchell" bombers spent time at the Sacramento Air Depot being modified for the April 1942 mission? Now there's recently uncovered evidence that some of the planes were flown to Willows for further practice after their overhaul in Sacramento.
According to Bob Fish, a Trustee at the USS Hornet Museum, a May 1942 report by Navy Lt. Henry L. Miller clearly states that he trained Army flight crews in "short-field take-off technique" at the airfield in Willows. Attached is a copy of Miller's declassified report and Fish's background memo.
This year is the 69th anniversary of the Doolittle raid. There are only five Raiders still alive. The annual Doolittle Raider's reunion will be held in Omaha, April 14-17. The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda will commemorate the Doolittle Raid on April 16 (press release).
Incidentally, the USS Hornet (CV-12) berthed in Alameda is the successor to the carrier that launched the Tokyo bombing run. The latter warship was sunk at the Battle of Santa Cruz in Oct. 1942. The former is famous not only for distinguished service during WWII, but also for recovering the Apollo 11 space crew that made the first landing on the Moon in 1969.
This Hornet now serves as a museum at the former naval station in Alameda. The ship is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Visitors are welcome to explore parts of the ship on their own or with a guided tour.
PHOTO CREDIT: USS Hornet (CV-8) launches a B-25 bomber (top). A B-25 practices a short-field takeoff (bottom). Photos courtesy of Bob Fish.